Project shows how to get a transit village built

Small families, rental apartments, and a right-sized central square are keys to development at Pleasant Hill in Contra Costa County, California.

Author:

Robert Steuteville

New Urban Network

Avalon Bay at Walnut Creek in Contra Costa County, California, a 422-unit rental apartment complex built in the form of a transit village, leased up faster and at higher rental rates than expected — attracting people who are inclined to use transit.

“They tend to be smaller families — young professionals or older families that are coming out of previous single-family homes,” says James Kennedy, deputy director of the Contra Costa County Redevelopment Agency, which helped to develop the project. “They want to simplify their lifestyle — they don’t want to mow the lawn or maintain a house.”

The success of this transit-oriented development (TOD) at the Pleasant Hill BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station partly reflects the current popularity of rental units in urban locations. New Urban News is seeing rentals lease up quickly in urban projects across the US this year. But the transit village offers many lessons on how to get good design through the public process, financed, and built.

The 12-acre project is centered on the transit station, which has a public plaza and 35,000 square feet of street-facing retail, currently being leased. To be built are 290,000 square feet of office space and 100 for-sale residential units.